Adventures in cookery - Squadron Chili Cookoff

So, tomorrow is our squadron’s Chili Cookoff. Amongst the judges are our squadron commander, who admits to not liking really spicy food.

So needless to say, this Texas boy might not win this one. :smiley:

One problem: This will only be my third attempt to make Chili. The first attempt didn’t work at all (but it made for a delicious not-chili). Also, the chuck roast I was going to use to make it with is still quite frozen :smack:

So, I’ve grated an onion (because I’m too lazy to chop it up) and now I must run to the grocery store for some thawed meat. Yay!

Put it in the sink, run a small stream of cold water over it.

Wasn’t sure how long that’d take for a four pound chuck, so I just bought a couple of 2-pound cuts of stewing meat. Now to heat up the pan for browning!

On an unrelated note, the grocery store that’s local to me has a security guard who stands around by the one entrance. I dunno how deeply I should think into that, but he’s very very friendly, nodding and smiling and saying “How ya doin?” to everyone who walks in and “Have a good night!” and waving at anyone leaving. I like him.

Or stopper the sink, fill it with cool water, stick the unwrapped meat in the water, and weight it down

I’ve found the moving water to be faster, personally. Annoying sound, though.

OK, I’ve chopped the beef up into little pieces, as uniform as I could manage them. The oil in the skillet is hot enough to brown the beef when water sprinkled on it boils with a hellacious fury, yes? Or should I wait till it bursts into flames?

Oh dear lord…

Ok, but the beef in the pan, IN PORTIONS, so that they don’t touch each other - otherwise they won’t brown.

After the beef is browned, put spices and onion and stuff in the pan, on a fairly lower heat, and stir until slightly cooked. Then add all the beef and some kind of fluid. Then simmer until done. Should take about 3 to 5 hours.

As for spices, I recommend (and I’m NOT a chili specialist at all, so take whatever you like from the following):

One star anise, paprika powder, garlic, chilis, cloves, a bottle of strong beer or a big splunge of red wine and a bunch of crushed cumin.

Browned the beef as best as I could figure out how to, tossed in the onions, garlic, and some chopped chives, cooked that for a few minutes, then tossed it into the pot. Added a couple cans of diced tomatos, beef broth, water, Sam Adams Black Lager, crushed oregano, about a sixth of a cup of chili powder, some cumin, and now I’ve got all that simmering up now.

So, I’ve got these little peppers our shop chief gave me. One of these is as big as my pinky, and was just hot enough for me to still keep my composure after he gave me one to try. How much should I throw in a pot? His suggestion was “Two or three at most.” Sound good to y’all?

All of them. Death to the weak!

Chives? And they let you serve in the Armed Forces?

What? I like the flavor of them. I try to toss them into whatever I’m cooking to see if it turns out well. Granted, in Chili, it might be like tossing a Boy Scout in to affect the tide of a barroom brawl.

Also, mind you, this needs to be not too spicy for a squadron of CE troops. So I’m thinking either two or three of these little peppers.

Buncha pussies.

Add more cumin. No, more than that. If you have to wimp out on the chilis, then add some more chili powder. Gephart’s, if you have it.

So, what kinds of flavor do Cumin and Chili add? All I know is that Cumin smells like the chili they sell in the supermarket. The stuff in the pot sure smells good right now though.

Cumin is one of the essentials flavors in chili. If you have the time, toast some cumin seeds and then grind them into a powder and add to the pot.

Gephart’s is the original chili powder. You’re a good Texas boy, you should know that! Or don’t they teach that at A&M any more?

Oregano? Huh.

Slice the peppers open, deseed, dice, and add them. The seeds are where the heat is, so feel free to chop those up into a mince and add as needed. Also sounds like you may have a lot of liquid in there. Reducing it down will only go so far before your meat starts to get mushy. If you don’t have masa handy, crush up tortilla chips into a powder and add that, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Yeah, Chili ended up being a bit too watery and tomatoey. Amusingly enough, while it wasn’t a big hit at the chili cookoff, my co-worker, who doesn’t like chili, loved it (go figure:p)

So now I have a huge pot of leftovers. I’m thinking of just fishing the meat chunks out for lunch tomorrow and tossing the rest, to be honest. Fun experiment though.

Finally decided to finish this little adventure: I realized that, while it wasn’t very good chili, it was a couple of potatos and a squash away from some pretty good beef stew.:cool:

You’ve inspired me - it’s been about six months, but there’s a nice chill in the air and I’ve been nursing a bad cold. It’s time for some motherfucking chili.

My current recipe (being prepped as I type this)

1 lb ground beef (80/20)
1 large white onion
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb beef “stew meat”
4 cloves garlic
4 dried Arbol chiles
1 dried Guajillo chile
1 dried Ancho chile
1 lb dried kidney beans
chili powder, powdered cayenne pepper, cumin, salt - adjusted on the fly (I start with maybe 4 tbsp chili powder, 2 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp cayenne. I’m not big on measuring these - I start tasting the chili about 6 hours in and adjust from there)

I soaked the kidney beans overnight in the fridge.

This morning I browned the ground beef in a skillet. Threw in about half the onion, chopped, with it. Drained the fat, dumped the beef and onion into the crock pot.

I drained the water from the soaked beans, added to a large stockpot, covered with about an inch of water, boiled for 10 minutes (needed to prevent food poisoning. Drained the water and added the kidney beans to the crockpot.

I cut the stems off the chiles. I don’t typically discard the seeds, though some are always lost in chopping of the stems. Rinsed the chiles, threw them into the crockpot.

Poured the crushed tomatoes over the mixture, stirred as best I could (crock-pot still off)

Put the stew meat on top (still as a frozen block.)

The garlic - I peeled 4 cloves and tossed them in my coffee grinder. Pulsed it four times. I hate chopping garlic by hand because then my hands smell of garlic for at least 3-4 days.

Added water to crockpot until the mass of beans and meat was covered by about 3/4"

I just turned on the crockpot (low setting, no spices added yet). I’ll let it go for maybe two hours to get everything nice and liquid, then I’ll add the spices and stir properly.

It’s not the fanciest recipe in the world, nor am I the best cook, but man I love cooking chili. It usually turns out to my liking :smiley:

…hell, it won’t be done until midnight though. Should have started earlier. Oh well, I can always throw it in the fridge - chili usually tastes better after sitting a day or two (properly refrigerated, of course). Plus I get to enjoy the smell all afternoon.